Children Given Pipe Cleaner To Drink At National Restaurant Chain

Lawyer Calls For Improved Health And Safety Measures To Be Carried Out


The furious parents of two infants who were hospitalised after staff at a restaurant accidently filled their children’s’ juice beakers with pipe cleaner have demanded answers from bosses of the national chain.

Philip and Claire Martin, from Bury, were visiting friends Stuart and Diane Watkinson in Sheffield in May when they went for dinner at Toby Carvery on Ecclesall Road South.

23-month-old Sophie Watkinson and 19-month-old Daniel Martin – who was just over a year old at the time of the incident - were left violently coughing, choking and vomiting after staff filled their juice beakers with cleaning fluids that had been used to flush the drinks pipes.

Claire, 37, and Stuart, 36, immediately tested the contents of the beakers and were ‘horrified’ to find it tasted ‘chemically’ and smelt like bleach. When they raised the alarm with a waitress and asked her to investigate, she quickly confirmed the beakers had accidently been filled with liquid that had been flushed through drinks pipes to clean them.

The families contacted experts in public liability at Irwin Mitchell in a bid to get answers from the restaurant giant and to ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

Their lawyer Kathryn Baines, a public liability expert who works at the firm’s Sheffield office, said: “Upon alerting staff to their concerns about what was in the children’s beakers, a waitress discovered that  they’d accidently been filled with a clear liquid found in a jug behind the bar.

“It beggars belief that this hazardous liquid was, as we understand it, left in a water jug without any warning or hazard signs to identify it and that it was then placed in containers that were clearly meant for children without being tested to identify what the liquid was.”

She adds: “Pipe cleaner is a highly dangerous substance especially if consumed,   and this basic error in health and safety procedures could have had utterly devastating consequences for one or both families.

“Although we welcome the fact that an apology was made by the manager of the restaurant to the Watkinson family (no verbal apology was made to the Martin family), I would urge the management of the restaurant and owners of Toby Carvery to investigate how this incident occurred in the first place and that they take immediate steps to make sure it can’t happen again.

“I’d also urge that new and improved health and safety checks be rolled out throughout their establishments.”

After their ordeal, both children received cautionary treatment for burns to their mouths and throats at Sheffield Children’s hospital, and were kept in for observations before being discharged.

Commenting on his family’s terrifying experience, Sophie’s dad Stuart said: “When I took a sip of the water Sophie had been drinking I couldn’t believe it, it felt like I was drinking bleach, the taste was horrific and I immediately spat it out.

“To know my child had drunk such a dangerous substance through no fault of her own made me absolutely furious; a moment’s carelessness could have devastated our lives. It just doesn’t bear thinking about how things could have turned out.

“I want assurances that steps will be taken so an incident like this cannot happen again.”